Sep 29, 2014
by Jonathan Ferziger
Internet fundraising enabled a group that wants to build a third temple on the most disputed site in the Arab-Israeli conflict to gather $105,000 for architectural plans.
The Temple Institute, based in the Old City of Jerusalem, used Indiegogo.com to collect 882 pledges of between $18 and $5,000 for the project in two months, according to Rabbi Chaim Richman, its international director. The money would pay for a “complete schematic work-up of what the temple would be,” he said in a phone interview.
The group wants to build the shrine on the site Jews call the Temple Mount and Muslims know as the Haram Sharif, where the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa mosque, Islam’s third-holiest site, stand today. Any Israeli construction near the site has triggered condemnations from Palestinians with warnings that it could lead to violence. To avoid friction after it captured east Jerusalem in the 1967 war, Israel put the area under authority of the Muslim religious body known as the waqf.
Jews revere the hilltop as the home of their two destroyed ancient temples and pray daily for its reconstruction. The competing claims have led to periodic riots in which scores have been killed on the site. It has also become one of the central tipping points that have kept the two sides from reaching a peace agreement.